Archive for the ‘Environmental Stewardship’ Tag

Feast of Joseph Sittler (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Middle Oconee River at Ben Burton Park, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, December 8, 2019

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOSEPH A. SITTLER, SR. (SEPTEMBER 26, 1904-DECEMBER 28, 1987)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Theologian, and Ecumenist

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Increasing distance from the natural world…has almost stripped us of the possibility to talk of ourselves in relation to God’s creation.

–Joseph A. Sittler, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 438

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Joseph A. Sittler, Sr., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via A Year with American Saints (2006).

The overlapping circles of ecology and theology have become increasingly prominent in the age of heightened awareness of Global Warming, Environmental Racism, and other ecology-related matters of human creation and contribution.  Sittler was a pioneer in ecological theology as early as the 1950s. 

Our saint, born in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, on September 26, 1904, was a son of Minnie Sittler and Lutheran minister Joseph Sittler.  Young Joseph graduated from Wittenberg College then from Hanna Divinity School, Springfield, Ohio.  He also studied theology at Oberlin College, Case Western Reserve, The University of Chicago, and the University of Heidelberg.

Sittler, ordained in the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA) in 1930, spent most of his career as an academic.  However, she spent 13 years (1930-1943) as the pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church, Cleveland, Ohio.  Then our saint taught at Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary (1943-1957) and The University of Chicago Divinity School (1957-1973).  He was also one of the most prominent theologians and sought-after college and university preachers in the United States of America.  

God is interested in a lot of things besides religion.

–Sittler, in Gravity and Grace:  Reflections and Provocations (1986)

Sittler had many interests besides religion, too.  He wrote about theology, ecology, literature, classical music, jazz, and aging, among other topics, in eight books and many articles.  And our saint taught that the reverent care of creation is a central concern in Christianity–or ought to be.  He was also active in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches.

Sittler was a warm person.  He had a fine sense of humor, knew literature well, related well and easily to many types of people, and enjoyed beer and Polish sausage.  He and wife Jeanne (d. 1991), a musician and a composer, raised six children–four sons and two daughters.

Sittler, aged 83 years, died in Chicago on December 28, 1987.

Sittler once preached:

A world sacramentally received is a world sanely used.

Do we–the human race–believe that?  Apparently not, based on how we have been treating the planet for a long time.  

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SEBASTIAN CASTELLIO, PROPHET OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, HYMN WRITER AND ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF ELLEN GATES STARR, U.S. EPISCOPALIAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA JOSEFA SANCHO DE GUERRA, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SERVANTS OF JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL RODIGAST, GERMAN LUTHERAN ACADEMIC AND HYMN WRITER

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Beautiful Creator, you open your hand to satisfy the needs of every living creature:

Make us always thankful for your loving providence,

and grant that we, remembering the account we must one day give,

may be faithful stewards of your abundance,

for the benefit of the whole creation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom all things were made,

and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Kings 4:29-30, 33-34

Psalm 145:1-7, 22

Acts 17:24-31

John 1:1-5,. 9-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 731

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And a Crock Pot   1 comment

My faith tells me that all of us have a divine mandate to be good stewards of the earth, collectively and individually.  Clubs, congregations, businesses, governments, et cetera, have vital roles to play in this matter.  My parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, has solar panels on one roof and has separate trash and recycling dumpsters.  Those efforts please me.

Etymology tells me that “steward” comes from  “sty ward,” or the term for one who feeds the pigs of another person.  Many people, without knowing that word derivation, seem to think of their communities, neighborhoods, planet, et cetera, as a sty, based on how much they litter and dump.  Often dumpers dump in neighborhoods in which they do not reside.  However, when I look at the back of the apartment complex in which I live, I conclude that some of my fellow residents are fouling their own nests.  Do they have so little regard for themselves?  If so, that explains why they have so little respect for others and for the planet.

Recently (about half a month ago), I became a volunteer with the Department of Leisure Services of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County.  I became a Trail Ambassador for at least four hours per month.

The duties mostly require me to do what I am already inclined to do–walk paths and trails, and collect litter.  I am trying to walk more in 2019, so another reason to exercise is welcome.  To leave my community slightly cleaner in the process is always positive.

I have already completed all but half an hour of my mandatory minimum of four hours for February; I logged two hours yesterday (Saturday) afternoon and one and a half this afternoon.  I walked the paved paths at Bishop Park, on my side of Athens.  I noticed the many cans for garbage and for recyclable items in the park.  I collected four grocery bags full of litter and found a crock pot, of which I disposed properly, in the park.

One is never far away from a trash can and a recyclable can in Bishop Park.  In fact, one is seldom outside of visual range of them.  No litter bug has a legitimate excuse.

The alcohol bottles and cans did not surprise me, just as the cigar wrappers did not shock me.  The crock pot, however, startled me.  Apathy, disrespect, laziness, and convenience have explained littering.  I found the crock pot near two trash cans.  I disposed of it in one of them.  How lazy, disrespectful, and apathetic did someone have to be to toss the crock pot onto the ground and leave it there?  Would disposing of the crock pot been inconvenient?

I hear some people suggest that the lack of proper receptacles for trash and recyclable items in certain public spaces accounts, at least partially, for littering.  Perhaps that is true in some places, but Bishop Park is not one of them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

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